The Reason I Am Not Blogging

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Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t written any blogs lately. I have been channeling my energy into a campaign of prolific writing to my elected officials. I feel compelled to continue a dialogue, at least with the folks who read the elected officials mail, sharing my concerns with the assault on forward progress attained in our country. I have shared my concerns with my elected officials on the topics of race relations, growth of hate groups and activities, healthcare, the budget, international relationships and climate. I have been very busy composing letters in response to the simplistic approach our leadership has been taking to very complex issues. Anyway, my point is that instead of writing blogs I have been writing letters, letters similar to the one below written to our Governor with copies to my State Senator and Representative.

I also have been hanging out with our grandchildren.  (Walter on his 2nd birthday.) So, now you know what I have been up to and what I expect I will be up to moving forward.

Dear Governor Scott,

It is time for Florida to join other states in support of the Paris Climate Accord. Florida needs to be vibrantly engaged in accomplishing the following objectives to reach a goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

  • Legislation must be passed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in vehicles and from corporate pollution.
  • Polluters who do not comply with the new emission standards must be fined severely.
  • Offer incentives to energy companies working with renewable energy sources. We live in a state with an abundance of solar power, lots of wind power and is surrounded by hydro power. Our state could adopt a goal of using only renewable energy sources and have plenty of energy to sell to our neighboring states.
  • Require that all public transportation systems transition to renewable energy by the year 2020.
  • Offer incentives to home owners and corporations who install renewable energy sources on their properties.
  • Join with other states and countries as a statement of solidarity with the rest of the world striving to save the planet that gives us life.

Governor, we must act now before we find ourselves spending millions of dollars building dikes around our coastal cities due to the rising ocean levels.

You must break from The President on his decision to leave the ‘voluntary’ Paris Climate Accord and stand up for our planet.

Sincerely,

Allen L. Heckman, MAJ, USAF, Ret

Quest: Settling Arguments

I met a guy who disagreed with me. So, I decided to call him vulgar names and keep shouting louder than he did   until he stopped arguing with me.

I really taught him not to argue with me, and my friends celebrated my ‘telling it like it is’.

The next time I met that guy he disagreed with me again. So, I decided to put him in a head lock,   throw him to the ground and give him a quick kick. He stopped arguing with me after that.

I really taught him not to argue with me, and my friends elected me to public office.

The next time I met that guy he still disagreed with me. So, I grabbed a cane and hit him   until he ran out the door holding a broken arm.

I really taught him not to argue with me, and my friends said I was a ‘real’ man.

One more time that guy disagreed with me. So, I pulled out my gun and shot him.    It was okay for me to do that because he was a loony conservative (or liberal, whichever is opposite of your ideology) who disagreed with me.

I really taught him not to argue with me, and my friends approved of my courageous stance against guys like him.

During Memorial Day weekend may we pause and remember the hope that dared dream of a country striving for something greater.

‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.’

 

See you next time.

Quest: What is Religious Liberty?

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The Pilgrim’s journey to Plymouth Rock began in the mid-16th century with the adoption, in England, of the Act of Uniformity. Under the 1559 Act, it was illegal not to attend official Church of England services and people were fined for every missed Sunday.

A group later known as The Pilgrims, already had adopted the ideas of Richard Clyfton believing their differences with the Church of England were irreconcilable and that their worship should be organized independently of the trappings, traditions, and organization of a central church. Pilgrims maintained that their congregations needed to be separated from the English state church.

Of course, the Church of England was the state church and the government did not embrace the Pilgrims need to be separate in their religious beliefs. The conflict resulted in the Pilgrims traveling to The Netherlands and eventually, in 1620 arriving in what is now Massachusetts. 

The Pilgrims fled the intolerance of a government that limited religious freedom to practice religion in their own way. Religious liberty is the ability to practice religion according to your own beliefs and not being forced to practice religion according to someone else’s beliefs.

The Pilgrims soon forgot what religious liberty was and imposed their religious beliefs and practices on all those who lived in their colony. The best-known example of the Pilgrims intolerance is the banishment of Roger Williams (not the singer)   in 1636 because he would not accept the Pilgrims religious practices. For those who might have forgotten who Williams is, he is the founder of Rhode Island.

My fear is that we are currently amid a movement in some quarters of the religious world to undo religious liberty in the name of religious liberty. Religious liberty is not demanding others practice religion like you do. Religious liberty is the ideal of different religious beliefs living side by side tolerating each other. The Founding Fathers worked hard to ensure religious freedom (liberty) for the citizens of the United States.  The signers of the Constitution recognized the need for each citizen to practice their religion in their own way. Folks who claim The United States is a Christian Nation are very much mistaken. The Constitution never mentions “Christian” or “Jesus”. Instead the Constitution simply acknowledges a power greater than our own, “God”.

The writers of the Constitution   did not want a state church with its inherit intolerance for differences in religious beliefs. The Constitution has been a wonderful platform of religious liberty as seen by our population. Our Country is one populated by Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists and a whole collection of other religions.   The Constitution has enabled our Nation to grow in religious liberty.

Religious liberty in a nation means the population is tolerant of all religious beliefs. We lose our religious liberty when one religion demands the government pass laws making that religion’s beliefs the law of the land. Government laws that limit one religion from practicing their beliefs in favor of another religion’s beliefs is a loss of religious liberty.

Movements to pass laws favoring one religion over another is a dangerous journey toward a State Church and the accompanying intolerance of those who believe differently. Tolerance of other religious beliefs is the core of religious liberty. I fervently hope we do not make the same mistake the Pilgrims made by creating an intolerant State Church that snuffs out all other religious liberty.

See you next time

Quest: 1950 Has Passed Into History Except in Washington D.C.

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Writing to my elected officials has become an important part of my daily activities. After seeing the photo at the White House of the ‘celebration’ of passing The House’s very defective healthcare bill   I felt the need to share a letter  I wrote to my Senators a couple weeks ago. Three women did manage to crash the party and appear in the photo. (Our Country’s population includes 50% women and minorities account for 50% of the population.) What is wrong with this picture?

Here is the letter I sent a couple weeks ago to Senators Rubio and Nelson.

“The 1950s-thinking coming out of the White House, Senate and Congress has me very much concerned about the future of our Nation.

The 50s thinking I refer to is:

1)       We believed we could control world events with military might like we did in WWII.   This thinking was proved wrong in Korea and Vietnam and again in the Middle East.

2)       We believed we had unlimited resources.  This idea has been disproved as we continue to discover the limited resource found under the earth’s surface.

3)       Belching smoke stacks and pouring sludge into waterways was a sign of prosperity.   Smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes was fashionable.    It was believed that smoking Marijuana would lead to using harder drugs. We have since learned the damage being done to the environment and humans living on the earth by our pollution. We learned that smoking causes lung cancer. We have learned that Marijuana has some great medicinal value.

4)       We were unaware our pollution was causing destructive climate change.  This naïve thinking has been disproved by nearly 100% of scientific research.

5)       The United States white leadership saw the Nation as a homogenous (White/Christian) collection of humankind.  This archaic thinking is proven wrong simply by walking down the street in the 21st century.

6)       In 1950, the population was 40% rural,  by 1990 the rural population had dropped to 25%.

7)       We believed industrial growth would increase for our life time while men worked their entire career in one job and their sons expected to do the same.  We believed real estate values would always be rising.   Today changes tumble over each other and we have reached many limits to growth both in industry and real estate. The average worker has at least three jobs in their career today.

8)       Women could not own a credit card.  They could not purchase a car or a house without a man’s signature. We thought a family consisted of a man and a woman who stayed home with the two and a half children. We have since discovered the talents and abilities women offer to our Nation. We also have become aware of the fact that a family can look many different ways.

9)       We believed everyone had access to a good education.   We have since learned it takes a lot of work and government involvement to provide education for everyone.

Leadership cannot effectively govern if it does not understand the time in which it lives. Leaders basing their decisions on antiquated understandings of the world in which they live cannot make decisions that improve the society in which they live.

The White House and Cabinet Secretaries (confirmed by the Senate) are doing all they can to move us back to the 50’s. Any country trying to move backward is doomed in a world moving forward faster than we can comprehend.

Stop using worn out, out dated speaking points and beliefs in your deliberations. We live in the 21st Century and we cannot turn back time. What can you do to move us forward instead of dragging us back to extinction?

Stand up to the White House and stop the destruction of the environmental protections, the movements away from international cooperation, protections for minorities, attacks on legalization of marijuana, removing of controls on financial institutions and limiting of public education funding.”

Allen Heckman MAJ, USAF, Ret

See you next time.

Quest: What Color is an Alligator?

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On a weekend trip to watch the Pirates   play the Marlins, My Jane and I visited Shark Valley Visitors Center in the Everglades.   I learned so much on our short three-hour visit to this amazing natural wonder. Our guide, Kelly, was very knowledgeable and fun to hang out with. At the beginning of the second half of our tour Kelly asked us what color alligators are? She asked us to raise our hands if we thought alligators where green, or brown or gray or black. Now, here is an interesting thought about how are brains work. During the stop at the observation tower, before Kelly asked her question, every one of us had paused to gaze upon an alligator in a body of water just off the path we were traveling. We all saw that alligator coming and going on that path not 10 minutes before Kelly asked the question! None of us picked the correct color of alligators with our raised hands.

Our brain has a remarkable ability to ignore facts when we have been conditioned to believe something other than the facts. If your ‘tribe’ believes a certain ‘truth’ you will accept that belief as true. My oldest grandson, Joshua,   proved this point when I asked him what color alligators are. Joshua lives in a house that supports the Penn State Nittany Lions (a fictional animal) and the University of Florida Gators. Joshua knows alligators are green because every alligator depicted in University of Florida material is green.   By the way, that is the wrong answer.

If your ‘tribe’ (family, work place, church, gym) believes human beings have not contributed to global climate change you most likely will believe the same. This goofy brain action makes it more difficult to convince folks that we are affecting the climate.

Maybe this story will help you believe human beings are affecting our environment. The Everglades have a snake problem. There are at least 10,000 Burmese Pythons living in the Everglades. Some estimates state the number of Pythons as high as 100,000. No matter, 10,000 is a lot of Pythons. The problem with the Pythons is that they are eating all the small game, deer and some of the birds. The snakes are decimating the wildlife population because they do not have any natural enemies in the slough we know as The Everglades. “Why don’t they have any natural enemies?” You ask. I reply, “Because they are not native to the area.”

Back in the “Seventies”   one of the in-things to do apparently was to own a python. So, folks bought baby Burmese Pythons and took them home as pets. Even in the “seventies” there weren’t enough drugs to make me do that?! Anyway, the baby snakes got large and began to look strangely at the pet dogs and small children in the family.   When this began to happen, owners tried to give the snakes to zoos and other animal preserves but the zoos already had enough pythons. Well, the owners of the snakes didn’t want to just kill their pet so they took the thing to the Everglades and dropped them off. So, humankind changed the environment of the Everglades by introducing a snake with no enemies that has reproduced very actively. Yes, we human beings have affected our environment and climate in many ways. Currently, in Burma, in their natural state, the pythons are an endangered species.

By the way, do you know how you catch a Burmese Python. A python catcher walks through the slough in bare feet until they step on something smooth and a little slimy. Once you find one you reach down and grab it (Hoping it isn’t one of the four poisonous brands of snakes in the Everglades.) If you have a python you get help and take it to the collection point.   If you have a poisonous snake, however, throw it as far as you can and run the opposite direction. If you can convince your brain to like this idea it is a great part-time job.

Alligators are black,    really! 

 

See you next time.

Quest: Mickey Mouse and Climate Change

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We are in the midst of a drought in Central Florida which has sparked at least 50 fires in Osceola, Orange, Seminole, Brevard and Volusia Counties.   I know this is only an anecdotal tale but unlike the Louisiana fishermen, who do not believe the rising water levels on the coast are the result of ‘climate change’, I believe scientists have some accurate factual information.

A drought in Florida just does not seem possible. Isn’t this the state where rain happens every afternoon around 3:00? Isn’t this the state that once was mostly a swamp? Yes, Florida was mostly a swamp until human beings thought they could get wealthy ‘draining the swamp’ (I will let that phrase blow in the wind.)

In 1881 Hamilton Disston (a wealthy businessman from Pennsylvania)   began a project to drain the Everglades which changed the face of Florida forever. Disston’s land purchase and investments were directly responsible for creating or fostering the towns of Kissimmee, St. Cloud, Gulfport, Tarpon Springs, and indirectly aided the rapid growth of St. Petersburg, Florida.  The canal project didn’t drain the Everglades but Disston did manage to dry up the land around Kissimmee enough for another Entrepreneur to buy about 30,000 acres of land in Osceola and Orange County in the 1960s.

The Walt Disney Company (disguised as other corporations)

purchased the land on what is known today as Walt Disney World. When the land was purchased it was nothing more than a desolate swampland, scrub forests, and groves. In 2005 Lou Mongella wrote, “In order to transform this area into the number one vacation destination in the world, massive amounts of Earth had to be moved. Additionally, since much of central Florida is essentially “floating” on a body of water, a daunting challenge presented itself. Disney had to transform this land, while balancing the needs of the environment and ecology of the area. If any part of the water supply was damaged or deleted, it would have caused a massive ecological imbalance to the region.

The first thing Disney did was set aside a 7,500 acre Conservation Area in 1970, which would never be built on [An environmentally conscious business making billions of dollars-my goodness!]. This would preserve cypress trees as well as provide land for the area’s natural inhabitants. Second, they developed an engineering marvel by creating a system of more than 55 miles of canals and levees to control water levels. Disney Imagineer John Hench  (Seen here with Walt.) designed this network of canals to blend into the natural landscape, rather than being constructed in straight lines.    The mechanism that control the water levels are completely automated, and require no monitoring and little maintenance. Pretty impressive, considering the property is about twice the size of Manhattan!”

Disney could not control the growth of  hotels, restaurants, attractions and malls outside of the park that keep sprouting anywhere land can be found on which to build. Except for a few years in the depth of the recession the housing market has been gangbusters with vacation homes and permanent residences going up as quickly as land can be cleared. Two lane roads became four lane thoroughfares then six lanes and now eight lane jam-packed highways.

I don’t need a scientist to prove to me that humankind has an effect on our climate. I can see the effect we are having on the environment in Osceola County. This year we are already seven inches short of rain fall needed to support life. Our lake is proof enough for me that something is wrong. We are having a drought in Central Florida. 

If we do not receive enough rain I wonder what will happen to the turtles living in the lake.   (Here is one just outside the pool screen.) Where will our alligator go if our lake dries up?  (Yes, that is it in the left center of the photo-I’m not getting any closer!) What will happen to the Sand Cranes, Ibis, Blue Heron, ducks, Vireo and Osprey who need the lake to survive. What will happen to us, the humans, if we do not protect our environment? What will happen to Walt Disney World? 

See you next time.

Quest: Some Christians Confuse Me. (Part 2)

 

The last time we were together I shared my confusion with the religious practices of some Christians. Let me share with you more of the reason I get confused.

Being a Christian means a person is one of Christ’s Men (obviously, a term coined before our contemporary desire to be more inclusive in our language.)  When someone claims to be a Christian they profess their desire to be “Christ-like” or one of “Christ’s men”. What does it mean for someone to be ‘Christ-like’? Being ‘Christ-like’ means reflecting the words and actions of Christ in a person’s interactions with others. So, what does it look like for someone to be a Christian?

Jesus answers that question in the Gospel (Good News) book of Mark chapter 12. One of the religious leaders asks Jesus which of the 613 Jewish commandments was the most important one for a faithful person to follow.  Jesus surprises his listeners by consolidating all the laws into two commandments when he replies, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NAS, Mark 12:28-31)

The brief mission statement for followers of Jesus then is to 1) love God and therefore 2) love who God loves-neighbors-as much as the Christian loves one’s self.

Jesus’ mission statement for his followers intertwines their relationship with God to their relationship with the other human beings wandering this earth. Loving God and loving our neighbor are two aspects of the same life goal.

Jesus continues to emphases the love necessary for his followers in the Gospel of John chapter 13  where he is quoted as saying, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all (people) will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV, John 13:34-35)

Jesus doesn’t leave any doubt that living a loving life of sacrifice (As I have loved you…) with the rest of humanity.

Jesus is very clear about how one of his followers will act. A follower of Jesus will love God and all the human beings God has created as much as an individual can love one’s self.   

My Jane taught me an important lesson after she read my last blog. She convicted me by stating that I was being just as judgmental (and unloving) toward the folks who confuse me as they are in their words and actions. She is correct. In another lifetime, back when I was job hunting my answer to the question, “What is your greatest weakness-or work area?” my answer was, “I am intolerant of intolerance.” So, yes, my words in my last blog were very judgmental of judgmental folks. My writing was not very Christ-like.

Let me just say this; Love does not judge. Love is not afraid. Love is welcoming. Love is forgiving. Love overcomes hate.       Love is the way to peace. 

 Just testing to see if you were still reading.  My Jane is more Christ-like then I am much of the time. That is obvious because she still lives with me and loves me after nearly 43 years on our shared life’s journey.

See you next time.

Quest: Some Christians Confuse Me. (Part 1)

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The most holy week for the Christian faith community is upon us. This is the week of Passover on the Jewish calendar which intertwines with the remembrance and celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. For Christians, this week encapsulates the belief that Jesus, God’s Son, died to pay the price for sin and open the door to eternity for sinners.

I am in awe of how the institution of the church that claims Jesus as the Savior of the world has confused the message of Easter. Let me share just a few of the confusing aspects of church doctrine.

At the core of some ‘Christian’s’ faith is the passage of scripture in the New Testament book of John chapter 3 verse 16 which reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” You know this is central to some ‘Christian’ groups because you see “John 3:16” on signs at most large gatherings of any kind.    I embrace the message of this statement attributed to Jesus in a discussion he was having   with a guy named Nicodemus who was trying to understand the teachings of Jesus. Some ‘Christians’ have taken this simple statement and created a whole ‘book’ of requirements a person must complete before they can have eternal life. According to these ‘Christians’ if you do not accept their requirements you remain a sinner condemned to hell.                This confuses me. Maybe, these ‘Christians’ haven’t read the next verse where Jesus continues to teach Nicodemus by saying, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Now, I am really confused by the ideas that 1) there is an extensive list of mostly ‘don’t’s that qualify a person as a ‘believer’ and 2) that condemnation is the result of a person not accepting and living by the precepts of this legalistic view of salvation.

The teaching of Jesus in these two verses of scripture do not support either of these ideas preached by some ‘Christian’ leaders. The reality of Jesus ministry is that one of his primary frustrations with the Jewish religious institution was the preponderance of rules. These ‘Christians’ who have laid a ‘claim’ on Jesus seem to ignore the disgust Jesus had for all the ‘red tape’ associated with the religious community. These ‘Christians’ seem to think the simple act of believing in Jesus (as Jesus states it.) is not enough to receive the gift of eternal life. This confuses me.

Second, Jesus very clearly states he is not here to condemn anyone. He is on earth instead to bring salvation to the world. The only folks Jesus speaks accusingly to are the religious leaders with their insistence on creating and following the rules in their doctrine.   If you don’t believe me look it up.

Matthew 12 ‘brood of vipers’

Matthew 21 ‘den of robbers’ (also Mark 11 and Luke 19)

Matthew 23 ‘blind guides’

Jesus confronted the religious leaders so much that they couldn’t stand him and of course their hatred of Jesus took us to Good Friday and Easter.

Some “Christians’ claim Jesus as the Savior but create doctrine in direct opposition to the teaching of Jesus who does not condemn anyone. This confuses me.

Could the truth be that some ‘Christians’ are missing the simple, and wonderful, news that Jesus has done all the work necessary to give the gift of eternal life to everyone?

Happy Easter   

 

See you next time

Quest: Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy

The other day My Jane and I were discussing our life together. We discovered two competing ideals associated with our journey. I see our present situation as one to enjoy. In other words, the pool is meant for fun. Living in Florida is meant to be filled with happy adventures. My Jane has a different perspective on this adventure. She sees the pool and patio as something to improve upon until it is the best it can be. Living in Florida, for her, means opportunities to ‘improve’ or ‘enhance’ our situation. The outcome of our discussion is we bought the tomato plants. The nursery people are coming to give us an estimate on new plantings.  The electrician has been scheduled to add some light fixtures. The plumber is next on the list of ‘to do’ items followed by the pool company to change our filter system.

Obviously, the two ideals do not always come together! Sometimes eating cake is messy.   Sometimes life isn’t easy. 

 

See you next time.

Quest: Spring Training Vacation

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Spring Training is about to end and the regular season kicks off for 2017. For those of us who practice the religion of baseball another season of faith and hope placed in the efforts of our teams has begun.    (As you can see by this guy and his son, baseball is more than a religion for some.)

Our pilgrimage to Bradenton and   LECOM Field (Spring training home for the Pittsburgh Pirates and home to the Bradenton Marauders, a Pirate minor league team.) to experience the last three home games of spring training is now part of history for My Jane and me. Here is the Cliff Notes review:

Game 1:  Pirate ‘legends’ do some coaching during spring training. That is Bill Virdon leaning on the cane and Rennie Stennet is about the seventh guy down the line.  The Pirates beat The Twins 3-1, Matt Frazier and Andrew McCutchen hit home runs. This was a fabulous beginning to our baseball vacation.

Game 2:    The Pirates lost to The Red Sox 9-1. We were only six feet (The closest I’ve ever been to a game ball landing in the stands.) from where a home run landed but I couldn’t see the ball until it was on the way down. We knew it was coming our way because I saw where it was going when it left the bat, but the clear pale blue sky and the folks sliding past us toward their seats (where the ball landed) interfered with our focus on the ball. A Red Sox hit the home run but it was still exciting for this fan to be so close to the event.   The left field bleachers were filled with folks who must have been wearing ‘fitbits’ because everyone seemed to be in constant motion, like the ocean at the beach never stops moving. Maybe the constant movement has to do with there being so much to look at, like the left-field bull pen.    A snack you won’t find at PNC Park in Pittsburgh is ‘Gator Bites’- tastes like chicken- so they tell me!

Game 3: Pirates lose to The Phillies 8-3.   The folks beside us were originally from Mt. Pleasant, PA, a town near Greensburg in Westmoreland County where I attended grade school and junior high. Their son attended Greensburg Catholic High School across the street from my junior high. Some coincidence! Early in the game a Phillie hitter (sorry, I should have noted his name, maybe, Tommy Joseph.) got ‘all of’ a Gerritt Cole 97 mile an hour fastball   (it was immediately obvious the hit was a home run. The only question was how far the ball would travel.) The ball went over the 400ft mark in center field, over the building housing the restrooms and snack stands beyond the center-field wall and over the cameraman perched on the roof of the building. Anything going that far, that fast, should have a flight attendant on-board. My Jane and I were surrounded by Philadelphia Fans who went crazy. We couldn’t help joining in the exclamations of awe at such a ‘Ruthian’ blast. The ball had to travel close to 500ft-in a hurry. This morning My Jane and I were having breakfast by the pool and I whispered, ‘That guy sure got all of that one yesterday.’  She simply smiled and nodded agreement.

Have you noticed how baseball teams are a collection of guys from different countries, with different skin hues who observe a variety of religious practices? Might it be time to inform the folks in elected offices in Washington D.C. that all people should feel safe no matter their country of origin, skin hue or religious practices-like on a baseball team?

People like my new friend Flor (Spanish for Flower)   should feel as safe in this country as I do. Flor is a native Texan and mother of two. She has been accosted by ignorant people who accuse her of coming to this country to take their jobs. (I imagine she has heard worse, as well but spared me the details.) Note to ignorant people: American citizens, born in the USA, don’t all look like you. We don’t all sound the same. We don’t all worship the same. We don’t all think the same. Get over it! Think of America like it is a baseball team filled with all the different moving parts needed to accomplish the task of playing and winning baseball games.

Before you begin thinking our only activity on this trip was watching baseball games let me share the Cliff Notes on the rest of the trip.

We strolled along the Riverwalk (Manatee River)  where we met a couple originally from Sharon, PA (where My Jane and I met.) and visited with a church member who was serving coffee and pastries to the homeless.

We visited an antique shop (no surprise there!) named Retro Rosie’s and explored a couple of blocks downtown known as “Village of the Arts”. The best way I can explain this spot is to say a bunch of old hippie artistic types bought old houses where they live and have studios.  (We walked away with a mirror for our bedroom.) We found a fabulous taco place in “Village of the Arts” named ‘Birdrock Taco Shack’.   The chef, Dave Shipletts, does not offer your ordinary menu of tacos in this Baja inspired restaurant. My Jane had a Green Tomato Taco and I had a Rice and Bean Taco with a bowl of Jamaican Crab Bisque. The food was fantastic and as an added plus Dave, an Eric Burton fan, piped in the ‘The Animals’ playing ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, ‘CC Rider’ ‘When I Was Young’ and other ‘Animals’ hits while we devoured our lunch. I closed my eyes ones and ‘too easily’ imagined I was sitting in a 70’s coffee shop. I’m already looking forward to next year’s spring training trip to ‘Birdrock Taco Shack’. We might even watch a baseball game!

 

See you next time.